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Less than your best?

Many years ago, I made the decision to offer only high quality work. Previously, I was always open to the idea of making lower quality pieces for people who had smaller budgets or simply didn't want to spend a lot of money.

Over the years, I realized that this was often a trap. People would seek me out because they had seen my work somewhere. They would say something like, "We really like your work and want you to do our job but we don't want to put a lot into it. Can you come up with something less expensive?" And I would tell them, “Yes, I can. It won't be as this or that as the work you saw but I can make you something nice for that price.”

But when I would deliver the piece, they were almost always disappointed because they really wanted my best work and even though they realized they could not afford it, they wanted it anyway. In the back of their minds, they really expected me to provide it even though we had an understanding. They would have many complaints and most of them would have been legitimate had they paid for what they expected.

After several of these scenarios, I realized that people always expect your best effort. Their sense of what you are capable of will be determined by what you have done in the past and what you show them. Once they see a level of quality that convinces them that you are their guy, you cannot let them down easy. You simply have to produce what they expect to get from you, no matter what was said or understood. If they cannot afford your best effort, it might be better to walk away. Either that or give them what they expect with the understanding that you are not going to be the one who ends up with the shorter end of the stick.

It might be worth it if these people are able to compensate you in some other way, by referring more work or having you do another, bigger project at full price. Sometimes that works out, sometimes not. But don't let yourself believe that that guy who said they understood that they were going to get less than your best will be happy with that. It simply goes against human nature.


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